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French Fries: SFBA Dish of the Month December 2014

It's "cheating" to say so, since I'm posting after the December deadline and had them before, but I did eat them in December--I love the fries at A Cote on College in Oakland. Crisp exterior, potatoey interior, a dusting of herbs, and dynamite aioli for dipping. I do think these are double fried, though I haven't asked.

I also recently enjoyed the fries at Cafe Jolie in Alameda. They were crispy on the outside and soft inside, appeared hand cut though I don't think they actually were (some were double wide, skins appear randomly.) These were also served with a tasty aioli. I believe these are a single fry item. I don't really recommend much on the menu there, but I've been known to be motivated by a good french fry.

Thanksgiving options in Marin...Rancho Nicasio, Pelican Inn (Muir Beach), etc

Correction! The resto is Yankee Pier, not Lark Creek. My brain scrambled. Hopefully this will make more sense.

Thanksgiving options in Marin...Rancho Nicasio, Pelican Inn (Muir Beach), etc

The Tavern at Lark Creek in Larkspur does a Prix Fixe that is pleasant and tasty. 3 courses, $50, and one option is lobster flown in from the East Coast (they do have a straightforward turkey option too). I have friends that swear by it as an alternative to the traditional turkey dinner.

Yakiniku (Korean BBQ) updates?

I don't know what one was just reviewedd by Melanie, so perhaps this is a repeat, but Gogi Time in Downtown Oakland is an AYCE with an additional a la carte menu, using charcoal grills. They also have AYCE hotpot. I have read some complaints about how smokey it is there because of the grills, but I think that is a hazard at any place actually using charcoal, and they have a very strong ventilation system so depending on where you sit in the restaurant it can be decent. Regardless, we try to get there early and generally go right home afterward to change into clothes that don't smell of smoke.

As for the quality of the meats and side husband and I like the marinated meats the best--both the bulgogi and the spicy pork. I also really like the pork belly. I've tried the spicy chicken, which was fine, and a number of the seafood items, none of which were bad but weren't great either. To have kalbi you must pay approx. $10 extra.

The sides are enjoyable--they have pot stickers, soon dobu, kimchi pancake, cheesy corn, and other stuff. Nothing is GREAT, but I always like the kimchi pancake and my husband likes the pot stickers. As for the banchan, I like the japchae and shredded daikon radish, sometimes there's good cucumber kimchi as well as the cabbage, and the broccoli is always good. The rest are okay, and none are amazing.

This all sounds like less than a rave, but we've been a few times and always enjoy both the food and the service. If you enjoy AYCE dining, and are a fan of Korean BBQ, I think this is definitely very good for the bay area.

Best beachside restaurant experience?

A good bet is La Costanera, in Montara right on the beach (so a short distance south of San Francisco). Peruvian food, lovely setting. It was recently reviewed on Bay Area Check Please, so you might want to go to KQED's website and watch the episode. I know many people who enjoy La Costanera at sunset.

Jun 29, 2014
jillyju in San Francisco Bay Area

Q Halal Chicken- Alameda

Original thread, not long after opening:

Yehuda Matzos

Just sighted at Berkeley Bowl West.

Gogi Time in Oakland

Been meaning to post my experiences here for awhile. I've been twice now--first within a week of opening, and 2nd time at the end of January. Slight changes to cost and menu between the two visits (prices rose by about $5 for AYCE).

Although I acknowledge the smoke issues, I appreciate that Gogi Time is using authentic charcoal and not a butane grill where no caramelization of meats is possible. We've tried marinated beef, chicken, and spicy pork, and so far the spicy pork is the clear winner. I've seen tables get their food grilled by the kitchen, so that is definitely an option. In this case, I think grilling my own food is part of the experience, and I enjoy it.

If panchan is what you are looking for, I think that Jong Ga House on Grand is a much better location. But for the overall experience, actual quality of meats, and the service, I would actually say I prefer Gogi Time. Some of Jong Ga's panchan is really excellent though.

I think that this may be a case of experiences being viewed through a window of expectations. The place that used to be there was way smokier, and a bit seedy. This place is actually using quality ingredients, has a friendly and responsive staff, and I think the overall flavors are good. Is it great? No? Is any AYCE place great though? Not in my experience. I like it and I'll be back.

Mumbai Chowk - great Newark indian

We stumbled across Mumbai Chowk a few days ago and really enjoyed it. Prices are great for well-prepared food that doesn't seem dumbed down.

We had:

Veg Somosas: My dining companion ordered these. Fine, though nothing special.

Sev Batata Puri: Loved these. Perfect little bites of sweet and savory, smooth and crunchy.

Sukha chicken masala: One of the dishes recommended by the waitress, as we were struggling to make decisions about the vast menu. Really delicious. Chunks of chicken thigh meat cooked with almost a paste like "sauce" (not very saucy) made up of tomatoes, lots of caramelized onions, and various spices. Loved this, especially the onions.

Veg kolhapuri: This was a bit unexpected. We'd ask for a vegetable recommendation, and something that had more sauce than our other selections. This was indeed a creamy dish but the vegetables weren't much in evidence. Some carrots and peas (possibly of the previously frozen variety) and a small floret of cauliflower. BUT, that sauce was delicious! I can't remember the spice notes now, but this was a hit on the flavor meter.

Garlic naan and onion kulcha. Both were excellent in texture and taste.

We ordered everything moderately spicy and next time I'd order it more spicy. We'll definitely be back.

Dungeness Crab Prices 2013/2014 Season

And so disappointing. Mild flavor but the mushiness made them inedible. I specifically asked if the crabs had been previously frozen and was that they were not. I'm annoyed enough that I'm thinking of requesting a refund.

Dungeness Crab Prices 2013/2014 Season

$4.99 lb. fresh/cooked at Costco San Leandro today.

Where to buy the best NY-style cheesecake?

I know this is an old thread, but I had a slice of VERY dense cheesecake from Saul's last week that I really enjoyed. Graham cracker crust--but it seemed to only be a very small part of the flavor profile. This cake reminded me of what I grew up with--not too sweet, thick yet creamy.

Additionally, in a different style--creamier, a bit sweeter--Gregory's Gourmet Desserts in Oakland has some killer cheesecake flavors. Gregory's is kind of a treasure; it's only open on Wednesdays and Fridays, and only one or two customers can fit inside at a time. You can buy by the slice or the cake. Lots of unusual and tasty cookies and scones, and, the BEST Key Lime Pie ever, anywhere, including in the Florida Keys. A crust made of brown sugar crack, and a thoroughly satisfying citrus center.

Souls Restaurant, Oakland

A quick +1 about the fried chicken. I moved out of the neighborhood a couple of years ago, and as a result had not been in a while. Last week I had lunch there, and while none of the sides were that impressive (nothing bad, just nothing memorable) the fried chicken is still top notch. Fried to order, the breast as moist as the thigh. Light seasoning but doesn't need a thing. 3 pieces of chicken of your choice, 3 sides, 2 cornbread muffins--a lot of food for about $15.00. Still a solid place.

Zaki's Kabob House (Berkeley)

And to answer the side question: No, I don't. I come back again and again to the magic that is Zaki's chicken.

Filipino Food - Cherry Garden - Fremont

It's full fledged, sit-down, and also has a full Chinese/traditional Cantonese menu. On Saturday mornings go by and buy a homemade bag of fried chicken skin--a tasty indulgence!


I am frankly a little obsessed with Falafel Etc. in Fremont. See my post here:

Where can I find the best San Diego Style Al Pastor and Carne Asada burritos in San Francisco?

Sorry to have missed this question. I am a fan of Gordo's and it's been awhile since I've eaten at any of the others as a result.

Breakfast spots?

And her wallet--for $85.00 pp, it seems important to mention.

Where can I find the best San Diego Style Al Pastor and Carne Asada burritos in San Francisco?

What you are describing is the only type of taco I like. Most of the Oakland taco trucks will serve you exactly what you are describing.

I see that someone else posted about Taqueria San Jose in San Francisco. I stopped going there because I felt the quality dropped off on their al pastor, but I am still a faithful customer of Taqueria San Jose on International Blvd. in Oakland. The key to enjoying their al pastor is getting it when it's reasonably fresh (I've probably had my best tacos there at lunch). I ask for only onion and cilantro, and hold the hot sauce. Then I add hot sauce on my own using the variety of sauces at the salsa bar. I don't know how their other meats are.

Bar Dogwood [Oakland]

Same owner-- Alexeis Filipello, as Stag's Lunchette. Both places serve the same killer grilled cheese sandwich.

Good sub rolls in Bay area?

Just realized this is an old thread, and I needn't post about good rolls.

Monterey-Carmel Area Best Dabs, Sardines, Cioppino

I was just at Monterey Fish House a week ago and had a very tasty version of cioppino with them called Sicilian Holiday pasta. I would describe it as cioppino over homemade pasta. All the fish/shellfish was cooked just to the point of doneness.

Although you didn't ask, their fried calamari is always cooked perfectly (not at all rubbery or oily) and their oak grilled items are great. We had oak grilled oysters that were the highlight of the dinner.

May 11, 2013
jillyju in California

Phil’s in the Moss Landing - the top five beach restaurants worldwide by BBC

This should probably be on the California Board but having just eaten there on Sunday (not for the first time) I would have to disagree. We got a fried fish platter, with calamari, scallops, prawns, and artichoke hearts. The prawns were the only thing on the plate worth eating. Having spent the money we ate some of everything, but the calamari were especially bad. Overcooked and overbreaded. I do enjoy the cioppino, but even that is hit or miss. The first time I ordered it, it arrived on the table with exactly one small crab leg. I didn't say anything, assuming that was just how it was. It wasn't until we were nearly done that we saw that other tables had half a crab hanging out of their bowls.

I keep going back, expecting a better result, because I like the idea of it so very much. So, that's my fault, but it's hard to imagine it ranking in the top five in the world, unless it is some sort of competition for averageness.

May 09, 2013
jillyju in California

Alameda recommendations

I tried it about 3 weeks ago, for lunch. Had an order of the shrimp in a medium spicy lemon/garlic (? not 100% sure of that). I thought the shrimp was on par with Rockin' Crawfish in East Oakland, in terms of freshness and proper degree of doneness. I think I might like the sauces I've tried at Rockin' a bit better, but given the high convenience level of Hang Ten for me, it's probably where I'll go from now on. I thought it was a good value, from very friendly people.

Mayday, mayday, grayelf on a collision course for SF Bay Area in... May

What about Rich Table? I haven't been but it's gotten such rave reviews.

Frutiland La Casa del Sabor--Arroyo Grande

I searched the board to see if this place had been mentioned before and couldn't find anything. I was visiting the area this weekend and always try to post here afterward if I find anything new.

Two of us discovered this wonderful little spot (warning: only outdoor seating) on Saturday. The owner and his wife cook everything themselves, from homemade blue corn tortillas to huaraches. We had outstanding fish tacos, and a side of onion rings that bore no resemblance to any other onion ring I've ever had. The fish in the tacos was impeccably fresh, with a light dressing, cabbage, and an outstanding pico de gallo made of mangos and peppers. The onion rings were made with wide slices of white onion dipped into a heavy, spicy batter. They were served with a dipping sauce that was faintly sweet but also had a really good zip of jalapeño. My dining partner got a chocolate milkshake (not made with ice cream) but I think the better bet would be any of the fruit drinks.

These folks are making their food with a whole lot of love and a commitment to quality. The flavors are creative, and the chef does not seem interested in gringo-fying the food. The chef was exceptionally friendly and truly wanted to make sure we enjoyed our lunch. And even though this isn't much more than a taco shack in appearance, they took credit cards.

We also went to Jocko's in Nipomo, and no one will be surprised (I think) to hear that it was as good as always. Miraculously, we had a 7:15 reservation and got seated at EXACTLY 7:15. I nearly thought it was a mistake. We've always waited at least an hour, even with a reservation.

803 E Grand Ave.
Arroyo Grande, CA 93420

Apr 22, 2013
jillyju in California

Gung Ho (San Francisco)

Closed, as reported by Grubstreet:

Cafe Rouge-Porchetta (Berkeley)

I wandered in to Cafe Rouge yesterday afternoon in order to pick up a roast chicken. I did leave with a chicken, but more importantly I left with a glorious slice of freshly made porchetta. A huge roast was sitting right up on the counter by the register, with juice glistening from the layers. This stuff was heavenly. Well herbed in the center, spectacularly delicious crackling skin, and fantastically moist throughout. It made a wonderful dinner last night and very satisfying leftovers for lunch today. It was $10.99 per lb, which was expensive for me yet seemed very reasonable for the quality.

Zhenjiang Pork Chops at Lucky River [San Francisco]

I recently had a work lunch there. The BBQ roast pork (chashu) was exceptional. It was a generous portion of succulent, moist pork. We had other dishes, but that's the one I keep thinking about.

Q's Halal Kitchen (Alameda) - great falafel and manti on the island

I'm glad you posted about Q's, because my husband and I tried it last week (as takeout) and I forgot to post about it. We were pleasantly surprised by our experience--particularly because we never liked the Kabob place.

I agree that the wrappings on the manti were different than what I've usually had, but I ended up really liking the lightness of them. We shared another dish that was a combo of grilled chicken and a kofti type meat along with rice (can't recall what they called it at the restaurant, and they don't have a website). Tasty! Chicken stayed moist and the meat was nicely seasoned. It was a generous portion for (I think) about $12.

I'd describe this as a great neighborhood place--not likely that I'd go out of my way for it, but tasty with good quality and reasonable price point for when I am in the neighborhood.

Oh, and the details:
Q's Halal Chicken
2306 Central Ave. (between Park and Oak St.)
Alameda, CA 94501